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How do I Make Popcorn Balls?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 17, 2024
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Popular around Christmas and other wintertime holidays, popcorn balls are a wonderful treat that can be enjoyed any time of the year. It is possible to use popcorn prepared by just about any method, and requires nothing more than a few simple ingredients and about a half hour of time. There are a number of popcorn ball recipes available, many of them adding various types of sweets into the mixture. To get you started, here is a basic recipe that you can try.

For the basic recipe, you need a half cup (120 ml)of unpopped popcorn and a quarter cup (60 ml)of some type of cooking oil. If you prefer to not use oil-popped popcorn, there is always the option of using air-popped popcorn. To save time, you can also purchase some type of microwave popcorn or a bag of movie-style popcorn to use for the popcorn balls.

To create the basic coating, combine a half cup (120 ml)of dark corn syrup, a half cup (120 ml) of granulated sugar, and a half teaspoon (2.5 ml)of table salt. Keep in mind the mixture will be somewhat thick while mixing, but it will thin once it is applied to the popcorn.

Once the coating is prepared, place the popped corn into a four quart (3.8 liter) kettle over medium heat. Gradually stir in the coating, taking care to uniformly coat each of the popped kernels. Continue to stir the mixture until the sugar is dissolved and the coating has left a thin layer over all the popcorn in the kettle.

Remove the coated popcorn from the heat. Using the hands, scoop out a small amount of the mixture and begin to form the popcorn balls. While you want them to resemble the dimensions of the average baseball, don’t worry if they are not perfectly round. Continue the process until you have formed a total of twelve popcorn balls. Place them on a sheet of wax paper and allow them to cool to room temperature.

One handy tip is to use a small amount of margarine or butter to coat your hands before you begin to form the popcorn balls. This will make it easier to handle the sticky mixture and not impact the taste or texture of the finished product in any way.

After the popcorn balls have cooled, you can begin to wrap them in plastic wrap or arrange them on a serving platter for a dessert table. It is not unusual for people to wrap popcorn balls in colored plastic wrap, then secure the wrap with some type of colorful ribbon. This is a common approach when the plan is to use the sweets as ornaments on a tree or as part of a gift basket.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum , Writer
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including WiseGEEK, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.

Discussion Comments

By Ocelot60 — On Apr 27, 2014

@spotiche5- Another fun way to add a twist to your popcorn balls is to add different types of flavors. I do this by sprinkling in powdered cocoa or cinnamon to the recipe. You can also sprinkle added flavors on top of the popcorn balls once they are formed.

By Spotiche5 — On Apr 27, 2014

When making popcorn balls, you can save a few calories and cut back on excessive oils by popping your corn in an air popper. I have also found that this technique makes the finished popcorn balls seem lighter, tastier, and less oily.

Malcolm Tatum

Malcolm Tatum


Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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